Friday, June 24, 2011

Meeting some Prince Charmings

I had a merry old time meeting Prince Charming last week. Actually, two Prince Charmings. First, the ace British mezzo Alice Coote, who plays the P.C. in Massenet's Cendrillon to the Cinderella of Joyce DiDonato at the Royal Opera House, opening next week. In today's Independent, she talks to me about duetting with another mezzo, how the great Brigitte Fassbaender helped her to get up and running, and why singing is a matter of ups and downs. Sometimes both at once.

My other P.C. is the American tenor James Valenti, who has sung with Gheorghiu and Netrebko and is soon to be plastered all over the world's cinemas in 3D as Pinkerton in the ROH's Madama Butterfly - not the most princely or charming of roles, admittedly. Here's the short-and-sweet interview in the Observations section of the Indy's Arts & Books today. The show opens tomorrow. (Apologies to the wonderful couple at Garsington the other day who gently corrected us over our picnic. "It's not a show. It's an opera...")

But a nice little addendum is that when I dropped in after the rehearsal, James was still feeling astonished to find himself in the same dressing room at the ROH used by such luminaries as Ben Heppner, Jonas Kaufmann and Simon Keenlyside. He says he took a photo of the list on the door and put it on Facebook: "Part of me’s still this kid from New Jersey! What am I doing here?" 

It turns out, too, that the soprano stepping in at short notice for the ailing Patricia Racette, who would have been Butterfly, is Kristine Opolais - aka Mrs Andris Nelsons as of 29 April.